The Dedication of the Lateran Basilica
Ezekiel 47:1-2, 8-9, 12
1 Corinthians 3:9c-11, 16-17
November 9, 2014
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica. There are not many days that take precedence over the normal Sunday readings. Last week, All Souls’ Day was one and now this feast today.
Just like last week, this begs the question why is this feast so important. A lot of people might wonder where the Lateran Basilica is. Honestly, if I didn’t look it up a few years ago for this feast, I won’t know myself.
If one had to guess, one might guess the Lateran Basilica is in Rome. After all, there are a lot of churches in Rome. It is indeed in Rome. So what makes this church so important?
I think a lot of people, if asked what church in Rome was most important, might say St. Peter’s Basilica. The Lateran Basilica is actually the highest church in importance as it is the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome and hence, the Pope’s “home church.”
So the Lateran Basilica stands as an image of what it means to be a church. Physically we can think of the physical building. A church is not a marketplace or a money exchange. The church is a place of worship and hence has an altar, a tabernacle, and an ambo, and images of our faith like our stained glass windows and statues.
Our church buildings are very important for our faith but they are not the “be all” of what it means to be a church.
In the first reading Ezekiel is describing the temple he sees. What we need to understand is that he is not looking at a physical temple. The temple had been destroyed. Ezekiel is telling us about a vision God gave him of the temple to be. Our reading today doesn’t include all the verses. As the water flows out from the temple, the water spreads and grows. It is life giving, living waters.
Ezekiel speaks of how wherever this water flows, every sort of creature thrives. For us the living water comes it in the form of the Holy Spirit. We also receive it in the sacramental life of the church.
God gives us the sacraments as a gift of experiencing his grace. The sacraments are not the only way we experience God’s grace but the sacraments are designed to be visible moments of receiving God’s grace, the living water.
The way we most regularly receive the grace of the Sacraments is, of course, in the Eucharist, the Real Presence of Jesus continued in bread and wine. For us as Catholics, the Communion we receive is not just a reminder of Jesus. It is Jesus. This is fundamental to our faith.
Moving beyond the sacraments, as Catholics it is also important to understand that God gives us Truth. When I say “truth” I mean not just some facts here and there that can be debated. I mean truth with a capital “T” set by God. Relativism would say there is no universal “Truth”. The way we live our lives is just a matter of opinion. That’s not what our Catholic faith teaches.
As Catholics we should also understand that our faith is not just one part of our life that we experience on Sunday morning. No, our Catholic faith is fundamental to our individual and communal identities.
Recognizing the Truth God offers us and the need to make our faith part of our identity, should lead us to realize that learning about our faith is not just for children. We need to keep learning. That’s why Pat leads the adult faith sessions he does. That’s why I do the presentations I do like the series starting next month where I will lead into what the Creed what profess means for us.
I see these items as important but it isn’t just me. Our Parish Pastoral Council has been specifically talking about these very ideas since March. We were looking for ways to discern how we are doing as a parish. We, with the grace of the Holy Spirit, developed eight “Guiding Principles.” The items I’ve mentioned today in talking about what it means to be “church” are all in the Guiding Principles.
To help all of you learn about these “Guiding Principles” you will find an article in our next newsletter that we will be mailing out soon that discusses them. I invite you to take some extra time to reflect on these principles and how you are doing on them.
As a parish, our Parish Pastoral Council will use the new “Guiding Principles” as a means of evaluating how we are doing. We are also emailing them to all the committee chairs for the committees to review them and discuss how their ministries fit into these principles.
We are a Church, a church that believes in God’s Truth, the sacraments, especially the Real Presence in the Eucharist, and that we need to share this faith with others. May God always guide us in living our faith in all we do.